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Friday, July 3, 2020

Sri Lanka investigates into WC 2011 finals ~ T20 at Chandigarh streamed as Uva T20 !!!

It was a great moment for India – 2nd April 2011 – as millions watched, the  World Cup final ran into confusion before the first ball was bowled. The coin had to be tossed twice ! after the match referee Jeff Crowe said he had not heard Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara's call the first time !!. The Wankhede Stadium was not yet filled to its 33,000 capacity, and the noise was yet to reach its peak. Commentator Ravi Shastri, who was hosting the toss, said it had fallen heads the first time.   When MS Dhoni threw up the coin again, Sangakkara called 'heads' and the coin fell Sri Lanka's way.

Kumar Sangakkara (captain of that World Cup side), Aravinda de Silva (chief selector), and opening batsman Upul Tharanga were all summoned to appear before a special investigation unit set up by Sri Lanka's sports ministry. They were each questioned for hours. Mahela Jayawardene, who scored a hundred in that game, was also due for questioning, but the investigation was halted before he appeared before the unit, is the hot news now !!

2nd April 2011 turned another cherished day as much as 25th June 1983 in the annals of Indian Cricket.  MS Dhoni created history leading the team from the front, with a strong performance with the bat and astutely marshalling his resources.  His leadership qualities assume greater significance for he backs his men strongly, leads from the front, talks to people, does not spew emotions on the field and above all is willing to accept the responsibility of all his actions and take the blame.  A man made of strong mind and steely resolve.  As he walked to the podium he said : -  "I took a quite few decisions tonight, if we hadn't won I would have been asked quite a few questions: Why no Ashwin, Why sreesanth. Why no Yuvraj, Why did I bat ahead?! That pushed me and motivated to do well. The pressure had got to me in the previous games. In this game, I wanted to bat up the order and Gary backed me and by the senior players. I had a point to prove to myself. Virat and Gautam batted brillantly; lots of singles. Then with the help of bit of dew , we put pressure on the spinners. I would have liked Gautam to go on and get that big hundred."

It was close to 11 pm and perhaps the entire India was awake.  There were sounds of crackers, people shouting in happiness as Dhoni received the trophy – the ICC World Cup was lifted – icons were getting lifted – the stadium bustled and spectacular fire works were on.   The cricket capital of India reverberated and the capacity crowd witnessed a great match at Wankhede, established in 1974.  The curator of the pitch was Sudhir Naik, who represented India decades back without great success.   

When we were expecting R Ashwin, in the place of injured Ashish Nehra, it was Sreesanth who had  a poor 5 over spell against Bangla in the opening game.  Lankans made sweeping changes – Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silve and Ajanta Mendis were out – in came – Perera, Randiv, Kulasekara and Chamara Kapugedera.  Zaheer had it all – started with a 3 over maiden spell, scalped Upul Tharanga and his first spell read 5-3-6-1 then was clobbered for 35 in two overs in the powerplay, ended up at 60/2 off ten.    A classic century by the veteran Mahela Jayawardene, an ordinary bowling performance ended up a decent score of 274.

Immediately after lunch, at around 0650 pm – a hush descended at Wankhede.  The slinger Malinga bowled to Virender Sehwag who generally opens with a four off the first delivery.  The first ball of the seventh over silenced the Nation.  The noise Wankhede went in to a huddle.  The ball moved got the outside of Sachin and thudded into the gloves of Sanga. At that point 31/2, not many were optimistic of India.  Virat Kohli played well with Gambhir but departed at 114 @ 21.4; still a long way to go.  A very well phased innings by Gambhir, who unfortunately missed his century and his century partnership with Dhoni enabled Indians pull off a great win.  Dhoni wrapped it in style with 10 balls to go, he sent the ball flying over long on for a huge six. 

The Sri Lankan Police today  ended its investigation into allegations that the country's 2011 World Cup final loss to India was fixed, saying it found no evidence after recording statements of stalwarts like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Former sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage had alleged that the final, which India won, was fixed by "certain parties" leading to an inquiry by the Special Investigation Division of the Police. "We will be sending a report to the Secretary, Ministry of Sports who directed us. We have concluded the investigation following an internal discussion held today", Jagath Fonseka, police superintendent in charge of the special investigation unit on prevention of offenses relating to sports, told reporters. According to Fonseka, the 14-point allegations levelled by Aluthgamage, could not be corroborated. "We see no reason why players must be further questioned", Fonseka added.

Fonseka's investigation unit interviewed Aravinda de Silva —the then chairman of selectors —, Sangakkara, the captain at the final, Upul Tharanga, one of the openers and Mahela Jayawardene. De Silva and Sangakkara, the sitting president of the MCC, were quizzed for over six and 10 hours respectively by the police, which led to protests outside SLC office on Thursday. Fonseka said the three cricketers, who gave statements, had adequately explained the reasons for sudden team changes in the final  —one of the accusations made by Aluthgamage.

The former sports minister had raised doubts about four changes in team selection in the final. The quizzing of players drew public ire and the former sports minister was subjected to criticism for raising the issue after nine years of the event. Aluthgamage claimed that he believed that players were not involved but couldn't prove how could a match be fixed without involvement of the participants.

Moving away, a  T20 match played near Chandigarh but streamed online as a game in Sri Lanka has caught the attention of BCCI's Anti-Corruption Unit, the Punjab Police and the island country's cricket board, which has rejected any involvement and vowed to take legal action.  The 'Indian Express' reported on Friday that the game played on 29 June took place in Sawara village, 16 km from Chandigarh, but was streamed as a 'Uva T20 League' match in Sri Lanka's Badulla city, home of the Uva Province Cricket Association.  While Punjab Police officials said an investigation is currently on to ascertain if a betting syndicate was involved, the BCCI asserted that it is keeping an eye, but only to the extent of getting details of those involved. The SLC, on the other hand, denied having any knowledge of the match ever being planned in Sri Lanka.

Whether it involved betting or not, whether there is some scam or not – how can a Cricket match be allowed to be played during Covid 19 lockdown.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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